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Week 18 Newsletter

October 21, 2014

In your box:

  • Broccoli
  • Celeriac
  • Daikon radish
  • Garlic, “Bear Carcass”
  • Kale, “Winterbor”
  • Onion
  • Spinach

Welcome to your last box of the season! Most years I would have no feeling left in my hands after washing vegetables all day this late in October, but thankfully this year we’ve had an extended run of Indian summer and the sunniest fall in memory.

Thank you all for your support this year. We couldn’t continue without your encouragement and devotion to local agriculture, and we’re so grateful for all of the community that makes up our CSA. Special thanks to my folks for helping out with Tuesday deliveries all year, and for Nina’s mom (and sometimes overworked dad) for helping wash vegetables on Thursdays.

No thanks to the winter squash (squash bug infestation), melons and sweet potatoes (too mild of a summer) Brussels sprouts (lazy plants) and carrots (no germination), for doing nothing at all to help fill the boxes this year.

Even as the season wanes, we have a few crops to introduce yet. Spinach is one of my favorite greens, yet I’ve never had great success in growing it. My spring crop is always too quick to go to seed, and the fall crop seems to skip right from tiny seedlings to monstrous leaves without offering the nice, small “baby” spinach that is so good in salads. This spinach, though large, is still great in a salad. But it is also tasty cooked down or baked into a lasagna or quiche. For use in recipes, half shares received 8 oz. of spinach this week and full shares one pound.

The long white carrot-looking crop is a Daikon radish. These are also known as Japanese Radishes or Mooli. Unlike spring radishes, these are mild in flavor and are still desirable once they’ve grown to a large size. Some grew so long that I couldn’t fork them out without breaking them. Just cut off the damaged tip and enjoy the rest. Daikons look just like parsnips or white carrots, but with much broader foliage. While Daikons are usually associated with Japan and Japanese cuisine, they are thought to have originated in continental Asia. The root does not need to be peeled, and can be eaten raw or in a dish. Store it in the fridge, in either the hydrator drawer or a plastic bag, for up to two weeks. The greens are edible but do not store as well as the roots. Cook them up in any recipe calling for kale, turnip greens, collards, or chard.

I’m really excited to have finally succeeded in growing Celeriac. I know what you’re thinking—come on, Farmer Red, enough with the celery this year. But behold—it is not technically celery, even though it’s also known as “celery root.” It’s a close cousin to its obvious relative, but while celery has a little root bulb and big leaves, celeriac has little leaves and a massive root system. The leaves can be used just like any celery stalks, but the bulb itself is what you’re looking for here. This has become one of our favorite crops and a necessary ingredient for any dish we make up in the slow-cooker. I’ve read that it can even be eaten raw like a carrot stick, but I’ve never tried it. To store, keep it in a plastic bag or the hydrator drawer for up to one month. To prepare, remove the stalks and soak the root in water to loosen any dirt. Peel the outside with a sharp knife or a potato peeler. It can then be chopped fine and added to soups or grated and added to slow-cooker recipes. You can also bake the whole root in an oven at 350 degrees for one hour and then remove the peel. Or you can peel it and cook up with potatoes for a tasty mashed potato alternative. Don’t be intimidated by its tough exterior—there’s a lot to like about celeriac.

Please remember to return any leftover CSA boxes to your delivery site within a week or so. I will make one last drive through to pick up any straggling boxes around Halloween.

With that, we’ll sign off on our sixth CSA season. I’m still deciding how to summarize the growing season. Remember May, when it was freezing cold? Or June, when it rained every day? And then there was summer, when it forgot to rain but never really got that hot. And then the autumn of 70 degree days and brilliant sunshine. It all made for a growing season of extremes—great success with onions, lettuce, celery, and tomatoes. And more duds than usual, mostly due to the soggy start and cool summer—cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash. But, as I always say, that’s why I don’t just grow one crop.

Thanks once again for your support this year. I’m incredibly blessed to be able to do the work I love with the support of a local community. I learn a little more, become a better steward of the land, and come to embrace our farm more every year.

And the best news for last: Nina and I are expecting another baby! Nathan will be joined by a brother or sister around April 1st of next year. Which gives the baby a couple months to adjust before he or she joins us to pick strawberries in late June, right?

Have a great winter!

-Red, Nina, Nathan, Henry the farm dog, and Short Stack the tractor

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